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Iron Supplements vs. Restless Legs

Q. Would taking an iron supplement ease RLS (restless legs syndrome) symptoms? I was part of a blinded study at Johns-Hopkins where I either had an iron infusion or a placebo.

I was “cured” for over a year, but the study isn’t finished and they won’t give me any information. I would like to know how much iron to take in pill form. Can you help me?

A. A placebo-controlled study found that pills with 325 mg of ferrous sulfate twice a day for three months reduced the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (Sleep Medicine, online February 18, 2009). Another study conducted at Johns Hopkins found no benefit for RLS from intravenous iron (Sleep Medicine, Feb. 2009).

We suggest you talk with your doctor before taking such a large dose of iron, since too much could be toxic. You can find other approaches for RLS at www.peoplespharmacy.com/health-concerns/restless-leg-syndrome-rls/

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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